As far back as I can remember, Sunday dinner involved one of three items, a curry of some sort, roasted leg of lamb, and roasted chicken. My mother had this special concoction that she used to season her chickens. It involved pureed onion and garlic, along with some herbs and spices. I guess you could say it was her version of a wet rub or a seasoning paste. It wasn’t too shabby, but for some reason her roasted chickens created a sudden eruption of sorrow and malaise that would creep up inside my chest. I think it was because we ate it on Sundays. The day before Monday. The day before the school week and work week began. The day before everyone trudged off to those places they didn’t want to be. As a child I think I picked up on all the different emotions bouncing around in our household. It’s funny how food can evoke such memories. While mom’s roasted chickens were delicious, to this day I still have a hard time eating them without revisiting the past. As an adult, I vowed to change my perspective on Sundays. It took me a long time to do this, but I think I have it figured out. It’s not only the ingredients that matter, it’s also intention. After all, we infuse our true emotional state in our cooking, and I fear that perhaps trepidation was a key ingredient in our Sunday dinners growing up.
With that said, I have revised an old tradition and crafted it to suit my palate. I try my utmost to infuse healing into my dishes so that those who break bread with me will feel lifted and hopeful. Change has to come from within but that doesn’t mean we can’t change our environment too. By that, I mean equipment. So, I nixed the roasting pan and opted for a skillet. I added flavors that called to me and you know what? It didn’t evoke anxiety. It evoked contentment, satiety, and comfort. Success!
Enough of my babbling, give this one a try and by all means add whatever ingredients speak to you. Food is an individual experience.
Skillet Lemon-Herb Chicken
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
1/3 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemons
1 lemon quartered
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic minced
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4-5 large carrots, peeled and quartered
1 medium sweet onion sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup melted butter
pinch of salt (optional)
1. Cut off any extra bits of hanging skin from chicken. Pat dry with paper towel and set aside.
2. place oregano, olive oil lemon juice, zest, thyme leaves, garlic, salt, and black pepper into food processor. Process until mixture is well combined, about 8-10 pulses. Add a little more olive oil if mixture is too dry. Apply mixture to chicken, getting under the breast skin and into the cavity. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cover well with plastic wrap. Place into refrigerator for 4-12 hours.
3. Remove chicken from refrigerator and let stand covered at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing into oven. Prepare carrots and slice onion.
4. Preheat oven for 350 degrees F. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan. Brush all over. Layer onions and carrots evenly. Truss (or tie) chicken legs and tuck wing tips under. You don’t have to do this step. It’s entirely up to you. Place chicken on top of vegetables and place into oven for 1-1 1/2 hours or until thigh meat registers 185 and breast is 175. Begin basting after the first 35 minutes of cooking time. Repeat process 2 more times until chicken is cooked through. During the last 30 minutes of cook time, add the quartered lemon to skillet. This will help to caramelize them a bit.
5. Take skillet out of oven and carefully remove chicken from skillet. Place onto a cutting board and scoop out vegetables and place into a serving dish. Set lemons aside. Let chicken rest for a five minutes before carving. Snip of twine, carve, and place pieces of chicken onto a platter. Squeeze lemons onto meat before serving. You can omit this step if you aren’t a huge lemon juice person. Simply leave the lemon quarters on the platter and have people help themselves to as they see fit.
All photos on this site were taken by Sabrina S. Baksh and is property of Food as a Metaphor/Regarding BBQ, Inc.